Business barometer well gauges market situation

IMF and World Bank recognise results of market related polls conducted among Belarus’ top managers

By Vladimir Bestemianov

Forecasts must sometimes be taken with a pinch of salt, although they can be quite useful. Every three months, governmental officials receive analytical bulletins showing the results of polling around 800 heads of industrial and construction organisations. Belarus’ top managers discuss demand, production capacity, number of orders in place and stocks in warehouses.

Since 1994, such polls have been conducted by the Economy Ministry’s Scientific-Research Economic Institute. The Analytical Centre’s Head, Irina Griboedova, tells us that their methods are those first developed by the Munich Institute of Economic Studies in 1949. In 1962, European countries began to use the system widely, with the USA, Canada, China and Russia joining some time later.

Questions posed to directors are chosen carefully, focusing on the most topical issues in the sphere of production and are well known to each top manager. The Government considers that such liaisons between manufacturers and authorities are important for decision making. “Similar polls differ from official statistics in being gathered so promptly; our Institute receives answers far more quickly than official results can be summed up,” says Ms. Griboedova. “Moreover, we obtain information on possible prospects for the coming three months, which enables us to correct some of our global economic plans, forecasts and actions.”

The Institute especially notes that its market polls are acknowledged by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The IMF’s Country Memorandum reads: ‘The comparison of market situation polls with official statistics indicates a high level of correlation between registered trends of industrial growth. This makes it possible to assert that economic growth in Belarus is real, rather than the result of paper manipulation of statistical figures’.

“With this is mind, we view our work as enhancing our country’s prestige,” stresses Ms. Griboedova. “Moreover, IMF specialists use these polls in talks with the Belarusian Government.”

At present, the heads of the major industrial enterprises are polled — state and business run, which account for over 50 percent of all manufacturing. In addition, small businesses also participate. Next year, besides industrialists and constructors, heads of trading organisations will be polled, as assessment of the consumer market is of no less importance.

“Expectations by company heads meet trends registered in the best period of our growth: in the first half of 2008. Over the past three years, we’ve registered no optimistic trends of the kind,” notes Ms. Griboedova. “Actually, the poll’s results are not mere optimism but real facts and figures. These indicate growth in production volumes, reduced warehouse stocks and enhanced exports — to Russia and further abroad.”

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